That’s a tricky question to answer because all fear is not the same.
When you are afraid, sometimes you may tremble, become short of breath, or have an upset stomach. Other times, you might have an emotional reaction, such as feeling overwhelmed or out of control.
If you’re like many people, you may often avoid or run away from fear. But have you ever stopped to think about what fear really is and how you can use it to grow?
What Is Fear?
Fear is a natural, powerful, and primitive emotion. It alerts us to the presence of danger or the threat of harm, whether that danger is physical or psychological.
Fear can be developed through direct experience with a real threat or learned through social means such as by observing others or by receiving verbal warnings. And it often originates from imagined or perceived dangers.
When it comes from a perceived threat, fear is a dangerous emotional state. James Allan wrote about this in his book, As a Man Thinketh, when he said, “Fear has been known to kill a person quicker than a speeding bullet.”
So, the question is…
Is Your Fear Real?
If you’re in a dangerous or threatening position, the fear you feel is legitimate. And you need to react or respond appropriately.
However, the kind of fear that stops you from achieving goals and dreams, which is the kind of fear I’m addressing here, isn’t generally dangerous. It is negative energy that you have created out of pure unadulterated, formless spiritual energy.
You give this energy form with your thoughts. So when you’re thinking about a goal that you don’t know how to reach, such as multiplying your income, here’s what happens.
You start to doubt that you are capable of creating what you really want, and then you get emotionally involved with that idea. And the negative feeling of not getting what you want sets up a vibration called fear.
This kind of fear is usually caused by having to do something you’ve never done before—something that takes you out of your comfort zone.
When faced with such a situation, you have two choices.
You can let the fear control you and stop you in your tracks. And you think, “I can’t do this. I’m better off staying where I am. ”
Or you can take control and think, “I’ve got this. I have to do this to get where I want to go.”
Keep Your Power
When you’re facing a fear, you can react or respond to it. There’s a vast difference between the two.
In his marvelous book called Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl said, “In every situation, between the situation and the way we respond to it, there is a space. In that space, you have time to determine whether you’re going to react or respond.”
Now, that space might be only a millisecond. But in that gap, you can think about how you’re going to handle the situation. When you react, you hand your God-given power over to the other person or the situation at hand.
However, when you respond to someone or something, you pause for a moment to evaluate or assess the situation. And then you think about how to handle it. You are in control; you maintain your power.
Learning to Respond
When unwelcome things happen in your life, you can shift to a state of complete fear and frustration in just a few seconds. Or you can choose to move to a place of hope and have faith that everything is not only okay, but it’s going to get better.
One way to get to that place of calm is to start paying attention to how you act when you are confronted by things in your daily life that make you uncomfortable or afraid.
When you react to people and things, recognize that your emotional or subconscious instinct is in control. And that means the situation is in control of you. Unfortunately, because of how your experiences and prior choices have programmed your subconscious mind, your emotional reactions often do not help you achieve the best results.
However, when you respond, your brain is fully engaged, and your self-awareness is high. You are in control, not your emotions or your programming, and you can make a constructive and conscious decision that moves you closer to your desires.
Here are three things you can do to start responding instead of reacting to fear when you’re moving toward a goal:
1. Instead of repressing the fear, let the feeling rise and breathe. Watch the urge to flee, retreat, or strike out rise inside you, and then let it pass through you.
Sometimes this process might take a few seconds. Other times it will require more work, such as writing down what you’re feeling to allow the fear to pass through you. No matter how long it takes, get yourself into a more positive state before you respond.
2. Get emotionally involved with the idea of achieving your goal (see our post on the terror barrier to learn more about how to do it). By doing this, you make it easier to push into the unknown territory that you have fallen in love with.
3. Understand what’s causing the fear (stepping outside of your comfort zone) and that it will go away if you walk through it.
Practice pausing whenever you feel uncomfortable or anxious, so you can evaluate what’s going on and stay in control of the situation.
Over time, it will get easier to respond instead of reacting to fear and other negative emotions.
In any situation, you can react with anxiety or fear, or you can choose to do the opposite and respond with faith.
Here’s how Clarence Smithson defined faith:
“Faith is the ability to see the invisible and believe in the incredible, and that is what enables believers to receive what the masses think is impossible.”
Fear, on the other hand, is seeing the invisible and believing something terrible will happen.
When it’s time to do something you’ve never done, something that will make you stretch, instead of thinking the worst, choose to believe that something incredible will happen.
Choose to think…
“Everything is going to work out great!’”
“I’m going to succeed.”
“I can do anything I put my mind to.”
Examine Your Everyday Moments
To make responding rather than reacting a life practice, start using the opportunities presented in the tiny moments that happen every day. Times when the person you imagine yourself to be doesn’t align with how you are feeling or acting at that moment.
To respond in fearful situations is to first, pause and take a full breath before doing anything. It is to stop and think properly, so you can take actions that produce your desired results. It’s to no longer be controlled by habits that don’t serve you.
When you keep coming back to this idea of react/respond, and you start to make responding a habit, the switch from fear and frustration to a sense of calm and hope will be swift and certain.
To your success,
P.S. We’ve prepared a download to remind you of the difference between reacting and responding to fear and to help you make decisions that will move you closer to your goals.